Elite shootout decides Super 8s
TWO of the world's best players faced off in the men's grand final at the Ipswich Touch Association's Super 8s competition on Friday night.
For 40 high-octane minutes the Springfield Stingers and favourites The Fockers went toe-to-toe in a heavyweight slugfest for the ages.
It was end-to-end non-stop action and excitement as the game's pre-eminent playmaker Dylan Hennessey did his best to inspire his teammates and manufacture an upset over the Lachlan Pierce-led Fockers.
There was no shortage of speed, agility, skill and guile on show as the Australian representative duo fired shot after shot.
The ball swung from one side to the other.
At times it was chain passed seamlessly through the hands.
In moments of greater urgency it fired out of a cannon, taking the more direct route to the other flank and into the hands of a flying winger on the burst and within reach of the tryline.
At halftime the score was deadlocked 4-4, setting the stage for an enthralling culmination to what will go down as one of the most epic final showdowns in the tournament's history.
Returning to the field, Hennessey lifted markedly.
Staking the Stingers' claim for the trophy, he quickly set up a brace of tries to take the lead but it was short-lived.
He had launched his charge too early, allowing the Fockers too long to recover, recompose and respond.
Pierce was instrumental. So too was player of the final and winner of the Scott Notley Shield, Jake Notley, as The Fockers hit back repeatedly, mowed down a tiring Stingers as they faded late and steamrolled to a memorable 8-6 triumph.
The Fockers James Hegedus said it was an awesome feeling to claim the title in such a classic encounter.
"It is pretty unreal," he said.
"It was a pretty hectic fast-paced game.
"I'm sweating buckets."
The talented teen who heads to Coffs Harbour this week to take part in the National Touch League as a member of the South West Swans said the standard of play throughout the competition was challenging and it was an ideal way to prepare for the trip south.
He said it was invaluable experience playing against and alongside players of the calibre of Hennessey and Pierce.
"Honestly, it's unreal," Hegedus said.
"Getting to learn from Dylan as a defence. Defending him is just unreal."
Ipswich Touch Association member and creator of the concept Toni Notley said the decisive evening was a roaring success with a great crowd on hand to witness the entertaining spectacle headlined by the two international stars.
"It was great," she said.
"That's why so many stayed around to watch because it was such an elite level of touch.
"It was really good for our juniors to participate in such a quality game featuring two of the top players in Australia."
Notley declared the Super 8s an overwhelming success for another year.
She said all of the scheduled games were played despite two weeks being washed out and there were many gripping struggles determined by a mere try.
In an indication of the competitiveness, the lowest ranked women's side lost to the eventual victors by just one try.